By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
MARLBOROUGH – A 3-0 loss to Algonquin still had Marlborough boys volleyball coach Sarah Casey smiling June 3.
“It was really interesting this season,” she said after the game.
Hosting their regional rivals on their home court, the Panthers kept pace in the game’s first frame before losing their second and third sets by wider margins.
The final regular-season game of the year for both teams, Marlborough walked out of 2021 with a 1-4 record. Algonquin, meanwhile, darted back into the win column with a 6-4 record.
Even in a loss, Casey said this game against such a strong team brought the best out of her squad from its first serve.
“We love playing these kinds of teams,” she said. “They make us better.”
As Algonquin battled at the net, Casey saw her players jumping for blocks before taking their time to set up spikes while on the attack.
“They’re giving us hits, so we have to put up blocks,” she said of that defense in particular. “We’re practicing those skills.”
Practice, after all, is something that Casey said her team still needs.
Just a matter of months ago, their group convened in the gym with just one returning player and an initially sparse crowd of newcomers.
By the end of tryouts, the roster had swelled to 13 members, largely approaching volleyball from a novice perspective.
“We weren’t really sure what we were going to get when we started out,” Casey said.
Through an up and down season, though, Casey now feels optimistic.
“They came to play,” she said of her new volleyball converts. “They really put the work in, and it’s a whole different team from the beginning of the season to now.”
With a handful of seniors graduating, this Panthers program remains largely young. That’s another bright spot in Casey’s eyes. She now has time to work with her crop of players, after all.
“I’m super excited about the next season and then the next three years,” she said. “They want to get this. We’re very excited about it.”